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Is fashion art? Maybe, if the shoe fits

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Can a piece of clothing be art, and can a designer be an artist? Maybe, says Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Most designers are reluctant to say they're artists, even though every creative person goes through the same process to express an idea,” Koda said in a recent interview. ere, spring shopping suggestions for those who believe that art can be found on city streets as well as in the National Gallery.

From the op art school

Victor Vasarely painted “Bora III,” an oil on canvas, in 1964. He was a leader in developing the geometric abstract, also known as optical art.

• Op artists zoomed in on color and line. A chevron-pattern cotton sweater from New Zealand-based designer Karen Walker goes for a similar artistic effect, seducing us with its precise navy stripes. Pair this fresh take on nautical style with your go-to white jeans or cropped ones worn with ankle-tied espadrilles. Seafellow sweater, $88 at www.anthropologie.com.

• A front-pocket tote's soothing geometric design in minimalist black and white will give you the illusion — if not the reality — of imposing order on your overscheduled days. Shopper, $129 at www.zara.com.

• Among the designers who, like Jacobs, embraced the bold geometric patterns of the 1960s is Derek Lam, who teamed with Kohl's for a new collection called DesigNation, set to launch online and in area stores April 5. Colors inspired by life in Rio de Janeiro give the wearer of this fitted dress a new angle on wearing stripes.$70 at area Kohl's stores and www.kohls.com.

From the collage school

Gerhard Richter painted “Stuhl” (chair) in 1985. His primary focus in the late 1970s and early '80s was abstract art.

• Old-school G.H. Bass & Co. (founded in the 1870s) delivers a new-school spin on saddle shoes with a jaunty collage of an on-trend floral fabric and leather. Available in yellow with black soles or black with yellow soles. Thea saddle shoes, $98 at Anthropologie stores, www.anthropologie.com and bassshoes.harborghb.com.

• If collage is all about layering and texture and creating cohesion out of visual differences, then a set of sparkly, stone-encrusted, candy-colored bracelets qualifies as a new art form. Set, $29 at www.accessorize.com.

• Graphic stripes and a photo print of a crowded beach scene make a crepe de chine mini dress an art-driven choice for a summer party on the patio. It's from Clover Canyon, known for blending bold patterns and hues. $207 at www.netaporter.com.

Janet Bennett Kelly is a writer for the The Washington Post.

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